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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

The dream of entrepreneurship is one many share. It’s all about being your own boss, having financial security, and creating something from nothing through hard work, dedication, and skill. It’s the rare person who hasn’t pondered how to become an entrepreneur.

I certainly did, and from a young age. I come from a long line of entrepreneurial people: my great grandfather was a cattle trader and wildcatter. My grandfather and father were in the oil and gas industry, and I have been involved in everything from oil and gas to manufacturing, real estate, and skin care. In short, I have been a serial entrepreneur for the past 35 years.

On the path to learning how to become an entrepreneur, I have both made and lost millions of dollars, managed hundreds of employees, and suffered from anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and other health issues.

I have learned lessons from some of the greatest minds in the business world, as well as from my own spectacular failures. But one thing I have never done is quit, and that is lesson one on how to become an entrepreneur and be successful while doing it.

What People Get Wrong About Entrepreneurship

When I talk to people about entrepreneurship and how to become an entrepreneur, there are some common misconceptions that always arise.

They are almost always based on stereotypes that have seeped into the culture over time. We see them in movies, television, and even from entrepreneurs themselves. But like all stereotypes, they are overgeneralizations that don’t allow us to see the true, in-depth picture of the entrepreneur. So, here are the most common myths I hear about entrepreneurs.

There Are “Born” Entrepreneurs

It’s true that if you come from a long line of entrepreneurs (as I did), you are more likely to become one, but it’s not genetically inherited. It’s much more a function of having entrepreneurs as role models in your life. After all, colleges and universities have been teaching all kinds of people business skills and entrepreneurship for decades.

Now, that’s not to say that there are no “born into” advantages that can help with entrepreneurship. Money is a great example of this. If you were lucky enough to be born into a family with money, it will make entrepreneurship a much easier proposition. After all, funding is a major part of any start-up.

That being said, most entrepreneurs were not born into money and still became successful. More on how to do that later.

Entrepreneurs Don’t Have a Social Life

This one is pretty common and sometimes perpetuated by the entrepreneurs themselves. There can be a kind of a machismo attached to the image of a workaholic: someone who is single-minded and entirely focused to the exclusion of other things.

While entrepreneurship does take a lot of time, effort, and dedication, entrepreneurs, by necessity, need to be social creatures. No one rises to the top without a wide network of friends and acquaintances.

They Are Extreme Risk-Takers

There’s no getting around taking risks as an entrepreneur. However, successful entrepreneurs are experts at taking calculated risks — carefully exploring all the options as well as the potential ups and downs before making a decision.

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The person who is willing to risk it all on a roll of the dice isn’t going to be in business very long.

They Are Super Smart

In fact, only about 26% of entrepreneurs have a college degree[1]. While getting or having an education can’t (or shouldn’t) hurt, it is by no means a prerequisite for becoming a successful entrepreneur.

They Raise Money Through Bank Loans and Venture Capital Firms

My hat’s off to you if you can pull that one off, especially a bank loan. You’ll find that banks are more than willing to lend you money once you’ve become successful, but before then, you’re lucky to get a cup of coffee out of them[2].

No, most new entrepreneurs are raising funds either personally or through friends and family[3].

How to Fund Your Startup as an Entrepreneur

    Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur

    All you need is a great idea and some hard work. After all, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.

    Sorry, but that’s just not true.

    There is a lot involved in launching a successful startup. Not everyone has the time, ability, or inclination to do it. The truth is, successful entrepreneurs do share some similar traits and habits. We’ll go over those next.

    6 Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur

    How much is a great new idea worth? Well, that depends. If you’re Steve Jobs, it’s worth billions of dollars. If you’re Steve Jones, whose content working a nine to five day job for 30 years, then it’s worth nothing.

    The truth is that there are great ideas all around us all the time, but it’s the entrepreneur that gives the idea value.

    So how do you know if you have what it takes to learn how to become an entrepreneur? Here is a list of some common traits of successful entrepreneurs.

    1. Passion

    We hear this one a lot, but what does it really mean?

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    For the entrepreneurs, passion is an overabundance of enthusiasm for their work. We’re not talking about a passion for making money or getting rich. That should be a byproduct of passion.

    The kind of passion we’re talking about is a complete belief in how the business, product, or service adds value to the consumer. People with this kind of passion are willing to do whatever it takes to see that vision through.

    2. Tenacity

    Rarely do human endeavors go exactly as planned. This is especially true in a start-up situation. No matter how good you are or how many times you’ve done it, things are going to come out of left field and smack you upside the head.

    Now, I’m not going to tell you that it’s fun when something unexpected comes out of nowhere and turns your world upside down, but I will say that if you have the tenacity to work through the problem, it will serve as a lesson in resourcefulness for both you and your team.

    3. Flexibility

    I’m putting this one right after tenacity because sometimes solutions aren’t a matter of pushing through a problem but going around it.

    Back in the 1930s, having wallpaper was the “in” thing. The problem was that it literally was paper. When it got dirty, cleaning it with water and other household products quickly soaked and degraded the paper. The solution was to use a clay like substance to clean the wallpaper without getting it wet.

    Then, in the 1950s, preschool children in Cincinnati started using this same clay to make Christmas decorations. Pretty soon, it was repackaged into Play-Doh[4].

    The most successful entrepreneurs are flexible enough to change direction when they need to.

    4. Confidence

    As a startup entrepreneur, it’s extremely important that you exude confidence in your business, product/service, and especially in your own abilities. After all, you need to be inspiring to investors, employees, and customers if you’re going to learn how to become an entrepreneur.

    Arrogance, on the other hand, can be just as detrimental to your business as a lack of confidence. For investors, arrogance is a warning sign that you won’t listen to their input or advice. For employees, it can set up a rigid, autocratic management style that stifles creativity. And for customers, it can signal a lack of appreciation for their business.

    In short, confidence is a must, and arrogance is a no-no.

    5. Being a Motivated Self-Starter

    I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who wasn’t a highly motivated self-starter. Part of that comes from the passion they have for their business. They really enjoy what they do and can’t wait for Monday to roll around so that they can start again.

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    Another part of that is discipline. They tend to approach everything in life with discipline. Work is the obvious example, but even leisure activities are an exercise in discipline.

    For example, they promised their spouse that they would get some yard work done, but their kid has a game. Their answer is not to skip either one; it’s to schedule both activities into the day.

    6. Being a Calculated Risk Taker

    We talked a little bit about this earlier, and the word “calculated” is very important here. We’ve all heard the saying that “With great risk comes great reward.” But too many people confuse “great risk” with “foolish risk.”

    A straightforward way to think about this is buying 100,000 lottery tickets. It certainly fits the criteria of a great reward coming from a great risk. But is it a smart (calculated) risk? If you’re intelligent enough to be reading this article, you know the answer.

    So, here’s how an entrepreneur thinks about this situation. Instead of spending money on 100,000 lottery tickets, how about taking that money, use 50% as a down payment on a property that needs a little fix-up; and use the other half to fix it up and then sell it for a $50,000 profit? Now that is a calculated risk.

    8 Practical Steps on How to Become an Entrepreneur

    When counseling people on how to become an entrepreneur, I encourage them to take an honest assessment of themselves. This is always much harder than people think.

    As humans, we are notoriously bad at self-assessment. We tend to overestimate our skills and abilities. That’s why almost everyone thinks that they are an above average driver[5].

    Even so, if you are considering life as an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s important to be as honest as possible when doing these self-assessments. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses, you can use these tips to build your business.

    1. Develop Your Idea

    It doesn’t have to be a totally unique or groundbreaking business idea in order to be a successful one. The popular rideshare company Lyft was started three years after the introduction of Uber. They took on the business model of Uber and just tweaked it a little.

    Just because there is competition in a field doesn’t mean that you can’t be very successful when you start a business, too.

    Go ahead and use the business model of the most successful competitor, but make it your own by identifying shortcomings and weaknesses that you can exploit for your own success.

    2. Research, Research, Research

    Research the industry and get to know the players, trade associations, and conventions. Research the products and services involved. It’s not uncommon that the most profitable part of a business isn’t the “main” product, but an ancillary add-on product.

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    For example, it’s not uncommon for a restaurant to break even on the food and only make money on the drinks. The reason they can offer a plate full of food for $5.00 is really the $2.00 Coke or $5.00 glass of wine you order with it.

    Finally, research the customer. Things like average age, sex, buying habits, interests, attitudes about health, wealth, social media, and status are all helpful in your targeting and marketing efforts.

    3. Create a Formal Business Plan

    This step is often overlooked and shouldn’t be. As a one or two-person show, you can probably get along fine without one, but once you start hiring employees, having a formal business plan is essential[6].

    Elements of a Business Plan

      Unfortunately, if you don’t put it in place right away, by the time you need it, you’ll be too busy to create one. It’s always smart to do it up front.

      4. Build Your Network

      No one can build a successful business on their own. You’ll need investors, attorneys, accountants, bankers, as well as vendors, industry contacts, employees, and a whole host of others.

      Start attending trade shows and conventions, as well as joining trade association and online groups. These are all great networking resources for you.

      5. Test Your Ideas

      Start small, as there’s no way you can predict every possible problem or issue that will arise. You’ll find it’s much easier to address these issues if they’re limited to a few test markets as opposed to a global rollout.

      6. Turn Early Customers Into Fans

      Another advantage of starting out on a small scale while learning how to become an entrepreneur is that you can develop more personal relationships with customers. Make sure to provide a great experience for these first customers to build up the most effective advertising there is — word of mouth.

      7. Raise Capital

      At this point, you should have a proven business model with customers, cash flow, and a plan for expansion. You can now start to raise money through investors, venture capitalists, and banks.

      8. Scale Your Business

      Take the money raised and use it to scale the business for maximum returns for you, your employees, investors, and early backers.

      Final Thoughts

      In my opinion, there has never been a better time in our history to learn how to become an entrepreneur. The old barriers to entry — access to large amounts of capital, expensive professional services like legal and accounting, and staffing issues — can all be overcome thanks to the internet. There are people all over offering these services as freelancers and at discounted rates, making it the perfect time to start to grow your business.If you truly have a good idea that you are committed to, then really the only thing stopping you from joining the ranks of entrepreneurs is you.

      More on How to Become an Entrepreneur

      Featured photo credit: Humphrey Muleba via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      David Carpenter

      Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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      Published on January 7, 2021

      How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

      How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

      Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

      If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

      Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

      You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

      When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

      Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

      In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

      Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

      3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

      Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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      1. Respect deadlines
      2. Understand the work-flow plan
      3. Build in time to mess up

      1. Respect Deadlines

      Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

      One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

      2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

      Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

      3. Build in Time to Mess Up

      You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

      Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

      For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

      Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

      This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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      Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

      Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

      Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

      When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

      12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

      Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

      1. Learn to Listen Well

      You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

      Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

      2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

      Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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      3. Follow Rules

      Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

      4. Take Notes

      Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

      5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

      When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

      As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

      6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

      If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

      7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

      English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

      8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

      Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

      9. Minimize Distractions

      It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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      If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

      10. Take Breaks

      It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

      11. Make Time for Reflection

      At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

      12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

      This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

      Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

      Final Thoughts

      Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

      When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

      More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

      Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

      Reference

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